Yesterday, I started thinking about what I wanted to do for a new project (visual essay or written) and I couldn't help but think of the year 1999. This was the year that made me want to have a career that had to do with movies (initially, I chose the screenwriter/director route - Ha!) and I know it made a lot of my colleagues do the same.
A number of observations are fueling my 1999 fire.
First, it fascinates me is how few of my students have seen movies from that seminal year - just 15 years ago. So I think a project that serves as a Valentine - hence the song choice - for the year would be helpful because it makes me hopeful that our excitement and nostalgia can rub off on these students.
Secondly, the year's offerings encapsulated so many "moments" in cinema history. For instance, the transition from 35mm to digital (STAR WARS). And one of the last breaths of the Indiewood movement (PT Anderson, Soderbergh, Jonze, Kaufman, Wes Anderson, David O'Russell, Kimberly Pierce, Alexander Payne). 99 was also a rich year for animation (IRON GIANT, TOY STORY 2, Ghibli), and the exploration of the boundaries of cinema narrative (THE MATRIX, FIGHT CLUB, MALKOVICH).
In fact, the year seems so fertile to me - both with regard to a breadth of well made films but potential topics - that I was unable to make a short introduction to what I envisioned as a series of visual essays. As I sat down and started culling together clips, I realized that there were maybe 10 great films of 1999 and 10 more good films.
I soon realized that I would be unable to take this project on alone if I wanted to do the year justice. One could take a Ken Burns or Mark Cousins focus to the visual essay and come out with hours of material. What started as a short introduction became a trailer for a fantasy project.
That project? An edited anthology of visual essays on 1999. This endeavour will probably be in conjunction with a project that I must be vague about at this time. However, I'd love to get a discussion going and see what people think.
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